Santa Margarita Catholic High School

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Frequently Asked Questions
What accreditation and distinctions does SMCHS hold?
Santa Margarita Catholic High School is fully accredited by the Western Catholic Education Association (WCEA) and Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)  and is a member of the International Baccalaureate Association. In 1998, the United States Department of Education awarded SMCHS its highest honor, the Blue Ribbon. In addition, the Visual and Performing Arts Program received recognition for "Distinction in the Arts" from the National Endowment for the Arts. Santa Margarita is a seven -time recipient of the CIF Commissioner's Cup, which honors the top athletic program in the CIF Southern Section. Santa Margarita has won the coveted cup more than any other school in the 581-member section. In 2012, 2013 and 2014, Santa Margarita was ranked by the Washington Post as one of the top private schools in the nation.

What is SMCHS' School Code?
Santa Margarita's school code is 052563
How many students attend SMCHS? 
Enrollment for the 2015-2016 school year is 1,755 students. 
What is the average class size?
The average class size is approximately 28 students per class. Generally, there are fewer students in Honors/AP/IB classes. All Freshman English and Algebra I classes have 25 students. The student/teacher ratio is 16:1.
How can I as a parent review grades and discipline?
As a parent you will have access to your student's official records through Aeries. Parents are mailed their password before their student starts school at Santa Margarita.  If you do not have your student's password, please email
What are the academic requirements?
Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, Honors, Interdisciplinary and the traditional college prep program provide an academic track to meet the needs of varied learners. The school also offers a comprehensive Auxiliary Studies Program to assist student with learning disabilities. In order to graduate from SMCHS, a student must complete 270 credits of course work. Students work with their counselors to plan their educational path and schedule. For more information, click here.
How is honors placement determined?
Placement in honors courses is determined by performance on the placement exam and some placement exams given by individual SMCHS departments, as well as previous course work and grades earned in middle school. Contact our Admissions Office at for placement information.
Do students have the same counselor all four years?
As freshman, SMCHS students are assigned specifically to a freshman counselor who assists the class with their transition to the high school environment. In the spring of their freshman year students are assigned to their "alpha" counselor (assigned by last name) who will be their counselor until graduation. Full diploma IB students are the only exception. Full IB students work with the freshman counselor, transition to their alpha counselor sophomore year and are then assigned to a full IB counselor for their junior and senior years.  International students will work with out International Student Counselor. 
How does a student go about meeting with his or her counselor?
All students are encouraged to see their counselor regularly. Students may stop by before or after school or during 10 minute passing or lunch. Sign up boards are outside each counselor's door should their counselor be in a meeting or unavailable. Students are also encouraged to email their counselor.
How often do parents meet with counselors?
Parents are welcome to schedule an appointment with their student's counselor at a mutually convenient time for both the family and counselor. Parents are also invited to attend formal meetings throughout the four years to discuss schedules, graduation status and the college admission process.
Is tutoring available?
Should a student need additional support in a class, all SMCHS teachers hold office hours throughout the week to provide additional assistance to students. The National Honor Society also offers tutoring before and after school on specific days as well as one-on-one tutoring at a mutually convenient time. A tutor list is available online through the counseling department or by clicking here.
What happens if a student does not pass a class?
Remediation of a grade of D is always recommended and remediation of a grade of F in any class is required to earn a diploma from SMCHS. Summer school is offered by Santa Margarita for many classes and the counseling department offers support in finding remediation options for classes not offered on campus during the summer. Students are not permitted to repeat a class the following academic year.
How does the counseling department prepare students for the  college application process?
The SMCHS counseling department provides full-service college admission support to all students. Students are encouraged to visit their counselor often, both alone and with parents, to create a realistic and comprehensive college list. With complete support from beginning to end, students are given a specific timeline and sequence to prepare for college admissions. All students graduate with the necessary A-G courses required for admission to the UC and Cal State systems.
What percentage of SMCHS students continue on to college?
99% of the students in Santa Margarita's class of 2016 continued their education at college. SMCHS is a college preparatory high school. When students graduate from our school, they have not only exceeded the state guidelines for high school graduates, they have also met the Cal State and UC requirements.
What colleges do SM graduates attend?
SMCHS seniors are accepted into the top colleges and universities in the country. Below are the enrollment statistics for the Class of 2015.

College Enrollment Statistics for the Class of 2016
Total Students in Senior Class = 424

Where did they go?

California Public Colleges 30%
California Private Colleges 9%
Out-of-State Public Colleges 32%
Out-of-State Private Colleges 25%
International Colleges 1%

Four-year Colleges 90% 
Two-year Colleges 9% 
Unknowns 2%

Catholic Colleges 10%

California Catholic Colleges 4%

Santa Margarita students attend colleges including Boston College, Bucknell, Clemson, College of the Holy Cross, Cornell, Duke, Fordham, Georgetown, George Washington, Gonzaga, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Loyola Marymount University, Michigan State, NYU, Penn State, Princeton, Purdue, Northwestern, Rice, Southern Methodist University, Stanford, George Washington, UC Berkeley, UCLA, Notre Dame, USC, Villanova, University of Michigan, University of Oregon, University of Texas and University of Washington.
What are the school hours?
Click here for the 2016-17 Bell Schedule.
What is the school uniform?
SMCHS has a dress and personal appearance code. All students are required to purchase a uniform from the Campus Store. Information is supplied in the acceptance notification packets or click here.
What transportation options are available?
 The school offers bus transportation. Click here for more information.
Is SMCHS a closed campus? How secure is the campus?
Once students arrive on campus, they may not leave the campus without permission from the Attendance and Discipline Office. School personnel and our campus security department are on patrol 24 hours a day. All visitors to the campus are required to obtain a visitors badge from the Front Office.
Are there required volunteer hours for parents?
No, parents are not required to give volunteer hours. However, we do have an active On-Campus Parent Volunteer Program. This program is of tremendous value and importance to the school community as it provides volunteers to assist the faculty and staff in the daily operation of their classes and/or departments. Yearly, there are more than 250 parents volunteering on our campus totaling thousands of hours. If you are interested in volunteering email parent volunteer liaison Diana Harris
What is tuition?
$14,300 for Catholic families and $15,850 for non-Catholic families, a discounted rate is offered for additional students.
How do I apply?
The Application Process at Santa Margarita Catholic is designed to be as simple as possible for the prospective parent. Click here for details.
What is the shadow program?
Prospective students are encouraged to shadow a current SMCHS student before making the decision to attend our school.  Incoming freshman students will be paired with a current SMCHS freshman with the same interests.  Shadow Days are from 8:30 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. Call 949.766.6076 for more information.
What placement test is given to incoming freshman?
SMCHS uses the High School Placement Test (HSPT) from Scholastic Testing Services (STS).  The results of the exam are used to help place your student in the most appropriate classes for their freshman year.  All testing materials will be supplied, including a snack, and no calculators are allowed.  If you have any questions about the SMCHS Placement Exam, please contact the Admissions Office at 949-766-6076.
Is Financial Assistance available?
One in five students at our school receives tuition assistance. Click here for more information.
Are scholarships available?
Scholarships for juniors and seniors, as well as scholarships to assist with college tuition, are made possible by alumni, parents, friends and donors. Click here for information.
If I am not Catholic, can I still attend SMCHS?
Santa Margarita is a diocesan Catholic high school open to students of all faiths.
What league does Santa Margarita compete in?
SMCHS competes in the Trinity League which includes Mater Dei, Orange Lutheran, Servite (Boys), Rosary (Girls), St. John Bosco and JSerra. Click here to learn more about our athletic programs.
Are parents asked to donate to Santa Margarita?
Each year the school asks parents to contribute to the Eagle Fund as well as participate in other giving opportunities. These voluntary, tax-deductible donations make up the difference between tuition and the actual cost of educating our students. Our school community is also encouraged to support Blue & Gold, the school's annual benefit, through attendance, donations or volunteering. Click here to find out more on supporting Santa Margarita Catholic High School.